Lilac Garden - (Syringa Vulgaris)
Graduations, outdoor weddings, garden parties, and everyday occasions
in May and June are perfect times to use bunches of beautifully
scented lilacs. If you have lilacs growing in your garden, not only
will you have a good supply, but you'll have a handsome landscape
shrub as well.
Lilacs are frequently used as border plants behind smaller
plants, as corner plants in public and patio areas, as windscreens,
and as flowering visual screens. While most gardeners plant them
for their spring flowers, the summer foliage on lilacs is handsome
and can add interest to your garden.
Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is the best known and
probably the most widely planted lilac. Originally introduced from
Europe by early settlers, this variety became easily established
because of its hardiness. It is not uncommon to find it in an open
field near the foundation of a house that has long since disappeared.
Old plants can grow as high as 15 feet with a spread of about
12 feet. This is usually too large for most present day gardens
unless the lilacs are grown as small trees near a single story house.
Spring flowers can be either white or pinkish-purple although
some hybrids have deeper colors such as blue, magenta, or violet.
In summer lilacs have dull, bluish-green, heart-shaped leaves about
four to five inches in diameter. Fall color is a pale yellow.
The Persian lilac (Syringa persica) is a smaller species
that grows about eight feet high with an equal spread. The flowers
are a pale, light purple color and are very fragrant, covering the
outer surface of the plant in three-inch tall clusters. The leaves
are two inches long and one-half inch wide and are light bluish-green
like the common lilac.
The Chinese lilac (Syringa x chinensis) is somewhat of
an oddity in the plant world. It is thought to be the first hybrid
lilac, originating as a chance seedling in Rouen, France, in 1777,
so it really is not a Chinese plant at all.
It has a broad spreading form about ten feet tall and equally
as wide when it matures. Its fragrant flowers are purple and borne
in large, loose, six-inch tall clusters. It requires some light
pruning every few years to insure the development of new wood.
When selecting a lilac cultivar for your home landscape, keep
your location in mind, and make sure there is adequate room for
the shrub to grow over the years. Color may also be a consideration
although almost every variety provides that delightful, lilac scent,
so no matter what you choose, you can't go wrong.
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor